Five Necessary Personality Traits for Primitive Dog Ownership
Some people say that your dog’s personality reflects who you are as an individual. I believe that to a degree, which is why I think we as individuals gravitate towards certain breeds/types of dogs. Primitive dogs tend to attract some of the best dog owners (yes, I know that I’m biased!), and I think that there are five personality traits necessary for owners of these awesome breeds.
In my time as a dog owner and trainer, I’ve worked with hundreds of various types of dogs, from every breed group. One thing that stands apart in primitive dogs is their desire to think and learn. That could potentially lead to their using their intelligence for evil rather than for good! These dogs thrive on a rewards-based learning system, as they are always thinking, “What’s in it for me?”
As such, their owners have to be patient when they are learning (“they” meaning the dogs AND the people!). That to me means remaining calm and focused on the dog in front of them (not the dog you had last week, or yesterday, or even earlier that day) and making every chance for learning successful. If there is no way to success, management is key, or retreat might be the way to go if that would provide the best outcome.
Independence While Building Strong Bonds
We sure are an interesting bunch. We own dogs who are seen by most as challenging, and we flaunt it! Therefore, when out and about we need to sometimes be OK being just as independent as our dogs are. Primitives want to think for themselves, and while some need other dogs to do their historical jobs, in my experience, they don’t seem to really need to be with many other dogs and/or people. They can very much enjoy being with other dogs and people close to the family, but it is not usually very fun to be surrounded by a ton of strangers.
So, in my own travels I’ve become very accustomed to being quite independent. I’ve learned from my dogs that being alone is not a bad thing, and while at trials where we most likely do not quite fit in, I am perfectly happy sitting alone and just taking things in while waiting to get ready to go in the ring. But you had better believe that if surrounded by any of my few very close friends, we’d be chatting it up! I think this independence is a huge asset to primitive dog owners, as we can further understand why our dogs do some of the things they do!
Not only do we have to be creative in our training of specific behaviors and cues, but we have to have the flexibility and thoughtfulness to do the same in all aspects of our primitive dog’s life! Those thoughtful brains of theirs can often become a hindrance to helping us mold them to “fit in” with the rest of doggy society. Many are especially environmentally sensitive, due to prey drive, guarding instinct, breed tendencies to alert bark (ask me how I know about that one!), among other things. So how in the world do we create these good canine citizens? Sometimes we have to think on the fly to change our goals, whether they are short or long term.
I’ve been to training classes where well-known, well-respected, otherwise super knowledgeable positive trainers have been unable to help and have run out of ideas. Therefore, I have had no choice than to think for myself, taking my dog’s unique temperament and knowledge base into account, and work towards a solution. In order to achieve my goals, which I reevaluate regularly, I need to be open to trying things, even if they seem a little odd!
Good Sense of Humor
If you can’t laugh at your mistakes, I’d argue that there’s no way you can succeed with a primitive! They keep us humble with their fun personalities and interesting ways of looking at the world. You also have to have that same good sense of humor with others. Social media is an amazing thing – we can keep in touch with friends and family all over, make new friends we wouldn’t otherwise meet, and keep up to date with the latest and greatest in everything the world has to offer. But it can also be a harsh and judgmental place. While I certainly don’t post publicly every mistake my dogs make (though let’s be real, it’s almost always MY mistake), I do tend to post funny things that they do to make sure I am paying attention, or amusing anecdotes that I know others will have a laugh at as well!
Excellent Communication Skills
This one does double duty, as well – not only do we need to be able to effectively communicate with our dogs for training behaviors and life skills, but we also have to do the same with other people. We are the advocates for our dogs. Again, due to breeding for specific jobs and breed traits, some of our primitives do not want, say, to be pet by strangers. Some are even expected to become dog aggressive as they mature, or are genetically predisposed to a very high prey drive such that they should not be let off leash unless in a secure area. We know our dogs best!
If we participate in sports and other such activities with our dogs, this is when we really have to be clear in our communication. Whether it’s asking politely for more space from other people and dogs at competition sites, advocating for specific training methods during classes, or asking for help and assistance when needed, this aspect of primitive dog ownership is of huge importance. And of course, this is the basis for us at Couch Wolves! We are the first website and community dedicated to these types of dogs, and our aim as we grow even bigger is to inform dog owners of all walks of life about how awesome and unique our favorite breeds can be.
Some may argue that these attributes are essential for all dog owners, and I would have to agree. But I have found that the independent-thinking dogs we have decided to share our lives with particularly excel with people who have these specific personality traits. Our relationship with our canine companions should be one of teamwork and positive interactions, of fun and laughter, and of resourcefulness and ingenuity. After all, we owe it to them to give the very best of ourselves as a thank you for all they do for us.